The 90’s called and it has some observations to share. Some insights to make today a little bit better.
“I knew all the rules, but the rules did not know me.” – Eddie Vedder
Please indulge me here, this is not about nostalgia. It’s about pragmatism. I was thinking earlier today about what’s missing, in general, and in general, I was lead to the 1990’s. The decade of which I came of age. I graduated high school in 1993 making me a card carrying member of Generation X. The last generation raised without the borders of technology as we know it today. A generation raised by the gigantic, selfish, and preoccupied generation called the Baby Boomers. I think we are the only generation trying to be okay with who we are instead of trying to have others be okay with who we aren’t.
“Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.” – Kurt Cobain
The 90’s was a very different and unique time. Looking back it was a glorious mix of the 50’s Beat Culture, the 60’s Drug Culture, and the 70’s self-aware and risky Exploration Culture. Mix all that up and add us young adults as leaven and you’ve got a movement.
Here are 21 observations from the 1990’s that appear to be very useful.
- People seemed to get and give the benefit of the doubt. We never acted like we knew somebody until we actually knew them. In every personal interaction, everybody earned their keep.
- Nobody was waiting to be told or shown what to do. Maybe it was the lack of adult supervision as children, and I don’t say that negatively, for the most part. We just knew that we were solely responsible for ourselves.
- It was us vs. them. Literally, there was us, our generation, full of power, and them, their generation, the middle-agers in charge. We knew we had everything in common as the up and coming adults. We didn’t have social media and unsolicited stimulation coming from everywhere, all the time. My life was like your life. Why wouldn’t it be?
- Being kind was normal. Thanks to our grandparents and old people in general, we were raised on the Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.) Which to us, made some very real sense.
- Hanging out with people who thought differently than you was cool. Why in the world would anybody want to be surrounded by people who all think alike. That sounds horrible. How are you supposed to learn anything? How are you supposed to be exposed to the plights of others? How are you supposed to build confidence in your own opinions, or feel urged to change them? I have to stop. It pisses me off that this is dead and floating down the river.
- A cup of coffee was meant to be drank, not worn. Seriously, what the fuck has happened to coffee and coffee shops?
- We were proud of our childhood wounds. Hey, our folks had it bad too, and so did theirs. So who are you really going to blame? We got places despite our wounds.
- We reused everything. We just did. We were conservation minded. Maybe we just got so tired of seeing our parents litter, throwing cigarette butts and beer cans everywhere. Or maybe it was because we spent our childhood days outside desperately avoiding the comfort of home. I knew the second I went home after being out, I would have to stay there. There was no contact outside of the house. You ran out before you could hear the time to come home, and you made do with what you had, praying that you would be able to eat dinner at a friends house, but you’d have to call home first.
- Everybody was reading a book. Who do you think is still buying books? For ten years every conversation was started with “hey, what’s that book you got?” Then you would make a mental note of what it was so you could read it next.
- People were paying attention. No cell phones, twitter, facebook, instagram, etc. The actual world was quite inviting.
- Watching TV was what you did when there was nothing else to do and your eyes hurt from reading. Television was fun. It was also limited compared to now. Each station would put together special line-ups. It was awesome. Seinfeld, Cheers, X-Files, Saved By The Bell, The Simpsons.
- Males and females talked. On the streets and in my generation, we were equals. We all were talking, all the time. It was just different.
- We knew our parents’ generation would never let us be in charge of anything, ever, but they would send us to war and pick our pockets. True. We are the generation that has the most disposable income. We are working hard still. We make up the largest chunk of entrepreneurs. We have all the power, yet we aren’t in charge. The baby boomers never thought we would amount to anything because they mistook our efficiency for laziness. Well, we proved them wrong of course but after they climbed the ladder they took it with them.
- We knew that hard work was the only way to get ahead. I think we got this from Reagan Era movies and television. Hat’s off to the 80’s.
- We spent our money on books, clothing, concert tickets, and video tapes. It’s still this way. The top items Generation X buys online are books, clothing, concert tickets, and movies.
- We were worried and optimistic, at the same time. The ability to hold conflicting thoughts that are equally true at the same time while still being able to function is not only the operative definition of intelligence, but it’s also a lost art.
- We were forgotten then and are forgotten now. Good.
- We knew you didn’t have to be in charge to have power. Confidence and competence. Thats it. Questing for power never really gets results. Oh yeah, we were taught history.
- We truly hated labels and resisted all stereotypes…still do. We grew up hearing so much racist and mean shit, I think we just became allergic. We weren’t trying to be unique and different, we just wanted to find ourselves without being handed a map. We equated a label with being told what to do. We equated stereotypes with public oppression.
- We started a fucking movement, an honest to goodness movement. We sure did.
- The music… all of it.
There you have it. I’m certainly not saying we got it all right. We didn’t. In addition, I think the younger generations coming up are quite impressive. We are the middle aged adults now, lets be careful with that, and while we’re being careful, let’s inject some beautiful 90’s joie de vivre.